Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts” Lyrics Meaning  

Queen Bee’s “Pretty Hurts” is designed to show the world the downside of trying to achieve society’s standards of beauty and furthermore.

The track starts off with a very strong message with American actor, Harvey Keitel asking Beyoncé what her aspiration in life is. After a brief moment of being taken aback, she answers that she wants “to be happy”. Now, the question here one would ask is how could a beautiful person not be happy?

Verse 1

In the first verse, Bee repeats words from what a pageant mom would tell her daughter. Such moms’ biggest goal is to make their daughters enroll and win in every pageant. The sad thing is that most of these parents feel that beauty on the outside is the most important thing in life.


This cycle must have been on repeat for years, probably since the start of her adolescence. Bee here portrays a feeling of numbness where she has been trained to continue putting up a show for the world despite the internal struggles she is facing. However, despite her insecurities, there is still a part of her that wants to win the pageant without fail. We assume from this, that even while she is struggling to fight being part of this, she may still believe that she is only considered beautiful when she is crowned the winner.

Chorus Proper

There’s a very powerful and profound line in the chorus, which reads as follows: “perfection is a disease of a nation”.

What Queen Bee ultimately strives to show here is that this idea of beauty (aka perfection) has become so widespread to the point of it becoming a disease. People undergo plastic surgeries or eating disorders to change the “flaws” in their body, just to fit into that concept of what society has deemed beautiful. While doing this, their insecurities grow stronger resulting in the degradation of their soul.

Verse 2

The media feeds on our insecurities by taunting us with unrealistic ideas of beauty. Sure, it is a good thing to promote healthy living but when it tips over to the point of causing people to starve themselves to achieve being, let us say a size 0 or 2, it becomes extremely unhealthy and very dangerous. Here, Bee even calls out the biggest fashion magazine in the world Vogue when they say, “thinner is better”. When such a magazine publishes that quote, it further proves the unrealistic idea of beauty the fashion world is trying to achieve.

The Bridge

No matter what one does to look beautiful on the outside, if you are not working on keeping your heart and mind at peace, happiness can never truly be attained. The pain caused by one’s insecurities can cause a ton of damage to oneself. As the make-up and lights go off, who you’re left with is just yourself. Such pain can give birth to mental challenges such as anxiety and depression.

The Outro of “Pretty Hurts’

The thirst for beauty and recognition can be like a drug. When the high fades away, one is still left with the same problems one was initially trying to run away from.

Eventually, the biggest question you can ask yourself after putting yourself through hell is – “are you happy with yourself?”


As the saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover”, we see a perfect example of such a case here. One would think beautiful people have it all and are happy with their lives. However, what we fail to see is what they put themselves through to achieve such things. There are probably tons of cases where they achieve their looks in an unhealthy way such as starving themselves or vomiting everything they eat out. Some even undergo countless surgeries that would require follow-up appointments to maintain their looks. At the end of the day, they still find themselves unhappy and look for more flaws (due to the media’s brainwashing) in hopes to reach perfection.

With that said, there are definitely healthier ways one can lose unwanted weight that would not only shed fats but boost morale. One such way would be through exercising and eating right.

It is crucial for us to find a balance in promoting body positive messages together with healthy living so that people are not prone to serious health issues.

Lyrics for Beyoncé's "Pretty Hurts"

Who is ‘Ms Third Ward Trill’?

In the video of “Pretty Hurts”, it seems Beyonce has yet another alter ego. After appearing on a few tracks on her husband Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album, Bee was credited as “Third Ward Trill”. And so, she carries on with this new alter ego.

Third Ward is in Houston (Houston being Bee’s hometown). Third Ward nicknamed “The Tre” is a center for Houston’s African-American community. “Trill”, on the other hand, is combination of true and real. At the end of the day, “trill” basically means someone who’s genuine.

Pretty Hurts

Release of “Pretty Hurts”

Beyoncé released the song, “Pretty Hurts” on December 13 of 2013. The song was listed as the opening track of the singer’s eponymous album, “Beyoncé”, which happens to be the 5th of her music career.

Prior to Beyoncé recording the song, two renowned singers, Katy Perry and Rihanna were initially approached by the original composer, Sia, to have it recorded. Both singers however failed to record it.


Despite Sia Furler being the primary writer of this track, Beyoncé is also credited as it’s co-writer. So is songwriter, Ammo. The production of “Pretty Hurts” was subsequently carried out by Beyoncé and Ammo.

Success of “Pretty Hurts”

“Pretty Hurts” earned several accolades including a string of positive reviews from music journals and pundits around the world. American news agency, Associated Press, named it 2014’s best track.

The Independent’s then chief music critic, the late Andy Gill, opined, the song is the best on the album.

“Pretty Hurts” landed on the UK Singles Chart at No. 123 and peaked at No. 63. It peaked at No. 3 in Israel and No. 8 in Belgium. The song currently holds platinum status in Australia and silver in the United Kingdom.

“Pretty Hurts” holds the enviable distinction of being one of the most popular body positivity songs ever released.

Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé”Album

Recording of “Beyoncé” began in 2012, in The Hamptons, Suffolk County in New York City, where the singer lived with her husband, Jay-Z and their newborn daughter, Ivy. According to Beyoncé, she invited a number of record producers and songwriters to spend a month in her home as they worked on the album. The singer recounted how fun, safe and unconventional the atmosphere was.  

Recording, however, continued in a number of recording studios, including Jungle City, owned by American singer Alicia Keys.

The album was released through the following American record labels:

  • Parkwood Entertainment, founded by the singer herself
  • Columbia Records, an American record label owned by Sony Music

Some of the biggest names in the music production business were assembled to produce “Beyoncé”. They include:

  • Timbaland
  • The-Dream
  • Ryan Tedder
  • Pharrell Williams
  • Ammo
  • Beyoncé
  • Justin Timberlake

The Massive Success of the “Beyoncé” project!

The album became the American singer’s 5th consecutive album to top the Billboard 200 chart as it debuted at #1 shortly after its release. In achieving this, Queen Bee also became the first female to have 5 No. 1 albums in a row. Within 3 days of its release on the iTunes Store, it recorded sales of over a million copies worldwide, making it the fastest sales ever recorded by iTunes Store.

Aside from the US, “Beyoncé” achieved top-10 standing in several countries’ album charts including:

  • Australia – 1
  • UK – 1
  • Scotland – 2
  • Poland – 1
  • Norway – 2
  • Canada – 1
  • China – 7
  • Denmark – 2
  • Finland – 5
  • Netherlands – 1
  • New Zealand – 2
  • Brazil – 3
  • Belgium – 4
  • Austria – 1

Over 2.3 million copies of the album had been sold as at the end of 2015. The album has been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA in the US. The UK’s BPI, Sweden’s GLF and Australia’s ARIA have all certified it 2x platinum. It has been certified Gold in France, Italy, Ireland as well as in Spain.

“Beyoncé” received a string of positive ratings from music journals, critics and pundits. For example, “Beyoncé” appeared on Rolling Stone’s 2020 list, “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. Rolling Stone placed the album at No. 81 on the said list.

According to the London based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the album was 2013’s best-selling album. It was Pitchfork’s best album for the period 2010 to 2014. It also got featured in Robert Dimery’s 2016 legendary book, “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”.

In addition to winning nomination for “Album of the Year” at the 57th edition of the Grammys, “Beyoncé” also won nominations in the following “Best” categories:

  • Urban Contemporary Album
  • Surround Sound Album

Was “Pretty Hurts” released as a single from this album?

Yes. It was the fourth and final single produced by “Beyoncé”. Below are the three other singles that preceded it.

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